There is much more to the story about the East Langley water line crossing of the Salmon River at 52nd avenue than what Township of Langley (TOL) officials want people to believe. This project is a graphic example of what is wrong at TOL.
Yet again we see:
1) Politicians and senior staff kowtowing to development interests.
2) Taxpayers footing the bill for TOL pandering to developers.
3) Community not respected, not listened to and kept in the dark.
4) Environmental protection at TOL impotent.
The Salmon River Enhancement Society (SRES) has posted extensive information on our website WWW.salmonriver.org along with a list of the TOL candidates who have taken us up on our invitation to tour the site. Sadly only one incumbent is on that list.
This timeline says it all
Without investigating council falls for misleading propaganda from development interests and changes the East Langley pipe route from 64th to 52nd avenue. This despite TOL having just sold the right of way at 52nd and despite the 52nd route likely requiring a difficult, expensive and environmentally damaging crossing of the important Salmon River.
2013 and early 2014
SRES’ fears turn out to be well founded as TOL plans to drill under the river from the bottom of the ravine. These plans would result in extensive damage to the ravine and its habitat. SRES points out that directional drilling from the top of the bank, as was done recently by TOL for the water line to TWU, would route the line under the ravine leaving the ravine and the river intact.
An incomplete and misleading report from TOL Engineering to council downgrades directional drilling claiming a vague risk of hydraulic fluids getting into the river despite also saying that directional drilling is a common means of crossing under rivers.
The chosen method is said to be $1 million cheaper and is described as creating “minimal disturbance and disruption”. This makes no sense.
There is no mention in the report of:
1) the risk of destabilizing banks by removing trees and running heavy equipment on the bank
2) permanent tree loss down the bank and near the river
3) a coded (protected) tributary and Pacific Water shrew wetland habitat (also protected) on the east bank that will be destroyed
There is no proper analysis of the true costs of the chosen method including
4) the need to pay for right of ways down the bank
5) the costs to clear a difficult area
6) the unforeseen costs that may occur working in a wet and unstable area
7) the costs to rehabilitate the area.
Summer and Fall 2014
1) TOL claims that the top of the bank (used to establish the 30 metre no-go zone to protect the stream) is right beside the stream at the bottom of the ravine. Prior to this TOL has insisted on restrictive covenants on properties with the top of the bank defined as, well, the top of the bank above the ravine.
2) A right of way is negotiated and residents are promised that there will only be a 15 metre working zone down the banks of the river with relatively few trees removed.
3) The working zone ends up being much wider than promised, causing extensive damage to the bank.
4) Massive tree removal including trees on the neighbouring property. TOL does not bother to ask the neighbour for permission or give notice.
5) When drilling becomes difficult TOL intrudes well within the 30 metres no go zone removing trees and digging up the area looking for rocks. The area is backfilled but is now unstable and subject to blowing out when the river rises in November rains.
6) The eastern wetland is turned into a sea of mud mixed with clay. The coded stream, two other small tributaries, the wetland and its protected habitat are demolished.
7) Attempts by the community to alert TOL to problems at the site are met with inappropriate and combative responses.
8) It becomes clear that TOL has not yet developed a plan for rehab of the area.
9) Drilling and equipment problems galore (what do you expect when you are working in a wetland) put the project far behind schedule and undoubtedly well over budget.
“Minimal disturbance and disruption” and saving money have proven to be far from the truth.
No one else would be allowed to ignore the known no go zone or start a project ignoring protected streams and habitat while not having any firm plans in place for rehab or compensation.
Meanwhile the Environmental personnel at TOL are AWOL, letting this environmental mayhem spiral out of control.
TOL has much to answer for.
Doug McFee, Langley